Destination Inclusion a “Voice of the Voiceless”

Graduates of the Destination Inclusion program, which offers free learning and mentorship opportunities to racialized individuals in communities across Eastern Ontario, continue to share how the program has impacted them.

Destination Inclusion graduate Shailesh Shrestha

Participant Shailesh Shrestha recently described how the program has played a key role in facilitating a career change in a new country:

“My professional background was in various forms of performing arts such as radio, theater, television, and film back in Nepal,” Shailesh stated.

Shailesh originally immigrated to New York City, where he started a completely new career in the service and hospitality industry. “I saw a job posting in the neighbourhood diner,” he explained. “I was not familiar with the terminology, but I dared to apply for the position as bus boy without any basic knowledge or experience. Fortunately, they offered me the job, and I started right away. That was the start to my open-ended career path in the service and hospitality industry. Since then, I have worked in five-star and diamond landmark hotels and upscale fine dining establishments managed and operated by celebrity chefs.”

He added, “I did not have any privileged economic and educational background, but I demonstrated the guts and determination to move forward and I ultimately accomplished what I deeply wanted to be. Being an immigrant, I strongly believe that we have that level of audacity, strength, and resilience because we know the true meaning of equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

After spending two decades in the United States, Shailesh and his family moved to Canada. “We came to this amazing, immigrant-friendly nation to explore the remaining achievable dreams and aspirations,” he said. “But we arrived when the pandemic was at its highest level and entire markets were closed. Despite my outstanding achievements and experience in the service and hospitality industry, I was not able to find any equivalent job with livable minimum wage.”

He started frequently participating in many training sessions, forums, and virtual job fairs. Shailesh connected with the Destination Inclusion program through the Canadian Immigrant job fair.

“I signed up for the mentorship program, which is amazingly useful to accelerate one’s career. As per a suggestion from my mentor, I enrolled myself in the online Hospitality Essentials Front Desk Agent course,” he shared. “After completing this, I was able to pursue the certification and am now equipped and emboldened with full enthusiasm and confidence. I never thought I would move from food and beverage to front desk. This opportunity and certification led to an open-ended path for a new career. After completing this online course, I have been looking for more opportunities to grab through Destination Inclusion and Tourism HR Canada. I strongly believe this organization has contributed so much to empower racialized individuals, Indigenous peoples, women, and marginalized communities. As I promote through my social activism, we need more Destination Inclusion types of programming to make sure we are an equitable and just society and nation.”

Destination Inclusion graduates are open to employment opportunities to apply their skills in roles related to cooking, housekeeping, and front desk operations. For details, visit the program webpage or email info@destinationinclusion.ca.